Considering Richmond was once the Capitol of the Confederate States of America, it should come as no surprise that the city is home to countless museums. In fact, this is where Patrick Henry gave his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. What many do not realize is that there is also a significant arts community here. This city is full of performing arts venues and art galleries. Whether you are an artist or history buff, or you just appreciate being surrounded by rich culture, you will love the arts and history scene here.
Virginia Historical Society
The best way to get a crash course in the city’s history is to visit this museum. Long-term exhibits that are definite highlights include Silver in Virginia, Arming the Confederacy, The Story of Virginia, and The War House. There are rotating exhibits as well. On the grounds, you will also find Virginia House, which you can tour. You will want to leave time to explore the eight gardens around the house as well that are home to more than 1,000 varieties of ornamental plants.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
If you appreciate the art of any era, you will simply lose yourself here. Permanent collections include African, American, Ancient, East Asian, European, English Silver, Deco, South Asian, Faberge, and Contemporary art. There are also rotating exhibits so you will want to make frequent visits. Entry to the museum is free, however, there is a fee for some rotating exhibits.
You will hear locals refer to this theater as “The Mosque,” which is what it was called for a long time. The theater is beautiful with some fantastic Middle Eastern art work inside. Although there are constantly popular shows here, such as “Wicked” and “The Lion King,” the venue does not offer the best acoustics. However, for a total experience, you really can’t beat enjoying a show in this landmark.
Science Museum of Virginia
The main attraction here is the IMAX theater that boasts a 76-foot screen. There are also some really cool exhibits here that both adults and children enjoy. There is a live animal lab with snakes, reptiles, and tarantulas as well as a Question Power exhibit for those interested in topics like BayScapes, solar panels, and storm water management.
Richmond Symphony Orchestra
This is one of the most popular places to be around the holidays, but if you live in the area, do check out the many shows offered throughout the year. There are even kid-friendly concerts on Saturdays as well as summer orchestra camps. The symphony also puts on a couple free performances at local parks in the summer that are definitely worth penciling into your schedule. If you are interested in getting involved, the symphony is always looking for volunteers.
Virginia Holocaust Museum
Opening its doors in 2003, this is a newer museum in the area and definitely a welcome addition to the collection here. There are more than 28 exhibits, each one more moving than the last. Jay M. Ipson is a primary focus in the exhibits. When his family was taken to Kovno Ghetto, he was only 6 years old. You can crawl through a tunnel to escape the ghetto exhibit, just as the Ipson family did. There is also a shower/gas chamber, cattle car, crematory, freight car, synagogue and much more. More than 10,000 people visited the museum the first year it was opened. They came from all over the county, as well as Asia, Europe, and South America. Prepare to be moved.